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Ran Out of Gas, Now its all Screwy!

I drive a '93 Buick Regal Custom. The car isn’t the best on the planet, but it has been pretty dependable for years now. The only problem has been an undiagnosed oil leak.

A new problem developed yesterday. I was running low on gas and en route to get some. When I’m nearly there, my call shuts off and I coast onto the median. I give it a shot at cranking again, hoping I can coast a little bit more with any speed I can gain and get to the nearby gas station.

After a few attempts, it is obvious I’m getting nowhere.

My girlfriend came to pick me up and we got a little gas. I put it in and went straight to the gas station to fill up.

The problem, though, is that on my way there, the car stayed cranked with lots of hesitations but wouldn’t accelerate very well. I sputtered into the slow lane, hazards flashing, and headed to the station.

En route, I realized that I could gain speed if I constantly pumped down on the accelerator. Holding it down did virtually nothing. When I started to slow down to turn, the engine shut off again.

I coasted into the gas station, got about 6 gallons. I hoped things would be improved but they obviously were not.

I did the gas-pedal-pump-dance all the way home. After some research and running it past a few folks, most people agreed that it would be a good idea to grab a bottle of fuel injector cleaner and give it a shot.

I did just that cranked up the car, and it seemed to be fine while idling. After putting it into drive, I realized that the pumping of the gas pedal was required to get any speed and to prevent stalling.

I try going around our extended block and it shut off 3-4 times when I slowed down. I finally got home and after a few minutes of cooling off, I decided to sit inside of the car, engine on, and revving the engine often with the hopes that the fuel system cleaner I added would have to work through it.

After about 10 minutes, I noticed lots of smoke. I don’t know the source of the smoke but I am assuming that it is from the engine revving as when I actually drive it, there is not noticeable smoke.

When the engine fails, the ‘service engine soon’ light does come on. I can’t get it to an AutoZone or anything, though, as I have to cross at least 2 very busy US highways to get there and do not want to stall and not be able to get it started again on one of those.

Any ideas here? Would the fuel system cleaner work on a fuel filter clog? Or is it not possible it is a filter clog? I’m limited on my knowledge of cars, so any help would be very much appreciated.

Hopefully I won’t have to wait another week to call the show and get a solution! Hope you guys can help.

Try a new fuel filter first,you may have sucked all the gunk in the tank to the old one-Kevin

Have the fuel pressure tested. Running out of gas is an excellent way to damage an in tank fuel pump.


I decided to just go with the cheaper fuel filter route first. I got the filter but now I can’t get the old one disconnected. Its so grimy, I nearly suspect it of being the original!

The problem I now face is getting the old one off… I can’t get the end that unscrews to unscrew. It may be that I’m just unable to get the leverage I need with the car so low to the ground. Its on about 6 inch risers and I think that MAY be part of the problem, but I also think that it may be just stuck.

Any advice on getting it off? I tried some liquid wrench. Is PB Blaster next or do I just need to find a way to get at it better without smashing the fuel lines?

Thanks again, guys!

Patience and PB will do it. Don’t use anything to heat it up. Rocketman

I got the fuel filter changed out. Pretty proud as a generally ‘non-car guy’ that I managed. It just took a smaller friend who could get underneath the car a little better to wrench it off.

The engine runs much better now but its still screwed up. It hasn’t stalled since replacing it but it comes close to it. I also used Sea Foam to hopefully clean it all out a bit.

I drove to work today and it was better but I had to do some fancy pedal work to get up speed. If I floor the pedal, I accelerate well but I’m guessing that’s not healthy for my border-line engine, plus that’s a work around and I need a solution.

Any other advice? I’m going to AutoZone to have them read my error in an hour or so and I’m thinking of getting some spark plugs as well, thinking they may have gotten gunked up. I would also change my sparkplug wires, but for the life of me, I can’t find where the other end goes! It looks like the back of the engine and I have no clue how to reach them.

Thanks for all of the help so far. I’m shocked at how fast and knowledgeable you guys are. Any other help would be appreciated!